Escombros

Escombros – Pencil and watercolor/paper – 7 x 11 inches.

“We love it when artists come to live here in Spain, especially in Valencia, because our city is so beautiful. But most artists paint beautiful things. Why do you paint ugly things, like piles of escombros?” The word means wreckage, debris, and I had heard the question several times. For most Spaniards, escombros are an eyesore they would rather ignore. So why would anyone bother to draw them?

I like escombros because of the challenge: the shapes are complex and difficult to draw. You have to slow down and pay close attention, so drawing becomes a form of meditation. What struck me about this particular scene was not only the sad wreckage of a place where people used to live, but also its contrast with the church across the street. During the hours it took me to complete this little sketch, I found it impossible not to consider that the present will soon enough become the past and that one day the church itself would finally become its own pile of escombros.

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More images on my website: johnmichaelkeating.com

One thought to “Escombros”

  1. Very intriguing post and very illuminating. Many of your paintings involve a great deal of detail. I think of the “Mercado Central,” for example, or perhaps that wedding painting in front of a complicated high altar. Many paintings, in any case, where the detail is substantial, even extreme. Your observation that drawing such detail is a form of meditation is, I suspect, revealing. It suggests an underpinning to some of your painting that is to be found in the detail. We, as observers, are well advised to spend time in the detail, to join in the meditation.

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